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9/11 Humor… What? Too soon?

May 21st, 2008 by Michiel

Back in September, my girlfriend was online at the website of one of her favorite retailers, checking out candles and other foofy girl stuff, and there was something on the site that caught us both off guard. They were having a sale. This was not your average ordinary sale. They were having a 9/11 sale.

Now, I was not offended, as there are few things out there that will offend me. Even so, I had to wonder if this was a wise marketing campaign.

I guess it is not totally out of line, since after the attacks on September 11, our own president suggested that we go shopping, and basically not let the terrorists disrupt our American way of life, i.e. consumerism. It did make me wonder if this is the future of advertising, where we can exploit any tragedy as long as we offer substantial savings on merchandise?

But then my disbelief gave way to my wandering brain, which started to think about how if this did become a regular thing among retailers, just what the ads might look like. Basically, I ran with the Presidents Day sale motif, as it would be done by a local car salesman that produces and stars in his own ads, and just gave it a 9/11 twist.

DISCLAIMER (Yes the following is not exactly tasteful, so, if you go forward and get offended, you have no one to blame but yourself, and I will have no sympathy and probably make fun of your “outrage.” Seriously, you have been warned. Enjoy).

I picture a local car salesman dressed as a suicide bomber and yelling, “Death to high monthly payments.” Then there is a big fakey explosion, and as the dust settles there is a vehicle with very reasonable monthly payments painted on it’s windshield, and a voice over saying, “This beauty can be yours for a down payment of $911.”

Maybe they will use the slogans from 9/11 and say things like, “Lets roll… back prices,” or “Our savings are wanted dead or alive.”

Or maybe the salesman will be in a flight suit and do a bad George Bush impression, “The terrorists hate our free clock radio with every test drive,” while behind him is a banner that says, “Savings Accomplished.”

Maybe they could use actual video of the planes flying into the towers and have a voice over that says, “We couldn’t save everyone on 9/11, but we CAN save you… MONEY!” Then, as they the plane crashes into the building they superimpose a bunch of dollar bills to look like they are coming out of the explosion.

If they run with the idea of using actual 9/11 video with things superimposed, they could show a crowd, running from the dust cloud of the collapsing tower, with the words “High Prices” superimposed on the cloud, and a voice over that says, “Don’t let high prices catch you. Run, don’t walk, to our 9/11 sale.”

Obviously, the only way to end any of these commercial ideas is to say the following: “If you pay more, you support the terrorists.”

Yes, I know it is tacky and tasteless, but I’m not the one who had a 9/11 sale. I just followed the idea to it’s natural conclusion, and if you live in America, you know that none of it is that far fetched, and you can probably picture it all as clear as I could.

I have to admit, it cracked me up, but come on, after seven years, can’t we find some humor in this tragic event?

Yes it is very dark humor, but somehow, I doubt you can come up with a good 9/11 puppies and rainbows joke. And lets face it, being able to laugh at tragedy is a sign of healing, and it is also a very human thing to do, as it helps us to cope and move on. So be human or be offended… the choice is yours.

(By the way, if you were offended by any of this, then the terrorists have already won).

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64 Responses to “9/11 Humor… What? Too soon?”

  1. swagman Says:

    Wow. Michiel, you really have no sense of what is funny, do you?


    Mike reply on May 21st, 2008 9:52 am:

    You saw no humor in that?


    Michiel reply on May 21st, 2008 9:54 am:

    And neither does Skippy, his wife, our common friends, my girlfriend, my parents and the guy that posted just after you.

    Thank the godz you had a properly adjusted sense of humor to show all of us just how wrong we were.


    sonni reply on May 23rd, 2008 5:27 am:

    I’m far more “offended” at the fact 9/11 sales are taking place then I am at jokes about the sales


  2. Sicarius Says:

    I thought it was funny.


  3. Freiheit Says:

    Not the usual rip-roaring gut buster Skippy usually pushes out, but thats the logical conclusion.

    Its no more disrespectful than all of the other holidays that have no meaning beyond an easy tag line for a lazy marketdroid. I’d have to look and see why we celebrate Presidents Day.

    If you’re offended by this do you take advantage of Memorial Day sales? What about Christmas?

    At some point Columbus Day was important enough to add it to the calendar, should it be taken off? At best its a chance to get a cheap couch (since there is no way that couch would be almost the same price any other day of the year) and maybe yell obscenities at the bank for being closed.


  4. Sean Says:

    I vote, in light of this natural progression of tragedy-to-holiday cycle, that Kennedy’s assassination be made a holiday; November 22nd can be a bank holiday, and it could be a great day to sell some hats, halfway decent single-action rifles, convertibles, and of course, shrubbery to the conspiracy theorists.


    Michiel reply on May 21st, 2008 1:52 pm:

    You would have to have a hole in your head, not to take advantage of deals like these.


    Sean reply on May 22nd, 2008 3:29 am:

    Oh god, I just thought of another obvious one: a synergystic approach to marketing with an infomercial! “The Magic Bullet” blender. In the amount of time it supposedly took Oswald to get three shots off, you can make guacamole!


    Matt reply on July 24th, 2008 10:44 pm:

    Revisiting and i SO want a shrubbery now… But it’d better be on sale…


  5. swagman Says:

    No. I see no humor in it. Not a laugh, not a whisper or a ghost of a chuckle.
    And Freiheit? I don’t. I’m going to be walking battlefields and attending a luminaria this memorial day weekend. Nice try at the lampoon, though.
    Its disrespectful. Its not funny. Especially not funny when it is from a woman who advocates making jokes about wounded military personnel.


    Michiel reply on May 21st, 2008 10:51 am:

    First of all, I am not a woman, although my man-boobs could lead you to think otherwise at a glance.

    Second, I do not advocate making fun of wounded military personnel. I advocate making fun of everything in existence because a sense of humor about all things, regardless of how tragic, is a healthy thing and keeps you sane.

    Like I said, if you are offended, you were warned, so you have no one to blame but yourself.

    In short, lighten up and stop taking things so seriously, life is to serious for that.


    Joseph Bullock-Palser reply on May 22nd, 2008 3:18 am:

    C’mon… You have to like the terrorist selling cars. :) It was quite funny Mike. Please keep it up. :)


    Elizabeth reply on May 30th, 2008 11:42 pm:

    What, so it would be better if it were a MAN who advocates making jokes about wounded military personnel? That’s a little sexist, don’t you think? Especially since women are, at this very moment, serving our country overseas?


    swagman reply on May 31st, 2008 8:33 am:

    The sex of the author was none of my concern. Read the commentary.


  6. swagman Says:

    Sorry — when I read the spelling Michiel, I read it in the French pronunciation; a woman’s name. My apologies.

    I’m aware that I was warned. Regardless — this isn’t funny.


    makoforte reply on May 21st, 2008 11:48 am:

    Personally, I found it worth a chuckle. But that said, I’m Australian, and we were making jokes about it the day after it happened. But that’s our general attitude towards tragedy. Joke about it, it makes it much less effective. Kind of robs the event of it’s bite. Getting this hung up on something like this this far down the road kind of, well, seems pointless to me.

    Besides, ultimately what’s funny, and what isn’t, is a matter of a opinion. You may not find it funny, but a majority of the commenters so far have.


    Michiel reply on May 21st, 2008 11:59 am:

    So is it the subject matter that is not funny, or the execution of the various punchlines and the general structure of the piece that you take issue with?

    If it is the subject matter, as I would suspect is the case, then what would make for acceptable 9/11 humor to you? Please provide examples.

    If you feel it is not an acceptable topic for humor period, please explain why it is not, and if it will be in the future. If it will be acceptable in the future, what conditions need to be met before a 9/11 joke is acceptable and allowed to be considered funny.

    Would you have a problem with this piece if it had been about the destruction of Pompeii?

    They say that tragedy + time = comedy. How much more time do you need?


    the Jack reply on June 11th, 2008 3:50 am:

    That may be what they say, but it really is tragedy + time =comedy=stupid lawsuits.


    Tony reply on June 11th, 2008 8:40 am:

    you know i was watching a documentary about the excavation of stonehenge the other day. turns out it was a burial ground for like several thousand years. kinda got me thinking: at what point does digging up dead people stop being grave desecration and start being archeology?


    SKD reply on June 11th, 2008 6:29 pm:

    about the same time that the government pays for it and develops a permitting process :P

    SPC Hyle reply on May 22nd, 2008 5:41 am:

    This, for the record, is absolutely hilarious.

    What tea did they serve on the Titanic? Sanka.

    It might be in poor taste, but it’s still funny. People died, yeah. But you know what? Laughing about something is a very, very good way to ease the grieving over it.


  7. Ratty Says:

    I found it funny. Swagman, lighten up. It’s called black humour, and it’s funny because it’s offensive. Much like Chris Rock, or Michael Jackson’s face.


  8. Dwayne Says:

    Well, looks like I get to join the “minority” then, because I didn’t see much humor in it either.
    I use the term “much” because some of the visuals in it DO have humor in them (come on, who WOULDN’T want to blow up a used car salesman?), but I lost too many friends that day, and in the war since then, to have a sense of humor about it.
    Does it piss me off if someone else does, no, but it doesn’t mean that I have to hang around and listen/read it, and I was warned, so fair enough.


    SPC Hyle reply on May 22nd, 2008 5:44 am:

    This is a perfectly acceptable reaction.


    Dwayne reply on May 22nd, 2008 3:44 pm:

    Thanks, I should also point out that the last line of what I wrote doesn’t mean that I am not reading Skippy’s List anymore, was more figurative then literal.
    Besides, I figure no one is perfect and people will always have things they disagree about; that is life and that is America, a couple of the things that make this country entertaining to live in.


  9. Stickfodder Says:

    I thought it was funny, and I can totally imagine some low tier sleazy used car salesmen trying this at some point, but I don’t see this concept catching on because too many people are easily offended. Keep in mind you don’t see any December 7th Pearl Harbor Day sales (at least I don’t) and like I said people are easily offended, even more so when it comes to dead friends, family members and other people especially ones killed in attacks on our country. But it’s still a funny idea.


    Joseph Bullock-Palser reply on May 22nd, 2008 3:22 am:

    I should point out that publicity is publicity, good or bad.

    If I was selling cars, I would probably do this. Yeah, people would get offended. Yes, people would eve boycott my dealership perhaps. Dare I dream, perhaps the news media will come down and do a story on me and my Dealership.. Perhaps obtain national renown.

    Sounds good to me. :)


    Tyler reply on May 23rd, 2008 3:06 pm:

    There is a used bookstore that discounts WWII books on Pearl Harbor day here in my city.


    SKD reply on May 24th, 2008 8:48 am:

    Actually I can get behind that 100%. It encourages people to learn about WWII on the anniversary of the attack that brought us into it which all too many people couldn’t even tell you the month much less the day and time that the attack occurred.


  10. Caleb Says:

    I thought it was pretty funny as well, although I don’t see it as ever happening like that.

    It’s too specific for mainstream use as advertisement. Memorial day is very bland and most people don’t even realize what it signifies and so it’s easy to use it as a commercial sales venue. National Anti-Terrorism Day would be an awesome sales day though. “Car Bomb” sales anyone?


  11. Ben Says:

    I found it humorous, but then, I like the dark humor. Also (and this also carries the Disclaimer, so if you didn’t find the port funny, just skip this comment) it can’t be too soon, as Family Guy already made the joke. They were pretending there was a new comedy about 9/11 coming out named “September 11th, Two thousand FUN!” Personally, I laughed at that too.

    Also, I did once see a Pearl Harbor Day Sale. The company went out of business a few months later. I don’t know if they were related (I was only like eight at the time, I didn’t exactly pay attention to these things), but it wouldn’t suprise me.


  12. Ihmhi Says:

    This is completely tasteless and I don’t think any business that is stupid enough to do something like this will be around for very long.

    I’m not saying it isn’t funny. I enjoy dark humor and I had a good laugh at this. But using something like that as a business angle will backfire so bad the ad exec’s grandmother will spontaneously abort and he’ll disappear in a puff of illogic.


  13. A B Says:

    Do we, or do we not, celebrate Abraham Lincoln, in part, because he had his brains blown to kingdom come? And then go out and buy candles or some such in Presidents’ Day sales?

    I was making fun of it the day it happened… what else could I do? A family member’s friend was going for a job interview at the WTC. We asked, jokingly, if she got the job. (The place was already ablaze by the time she got there)

    The fact that there was a pretty strong warning before we got to the actual text told me that I was about to read something pretty inflamitory. But I’m generally thick skinned, and very inquisitive, and needed to know.

    I did chuckle at a few things, and realize that folks would be pissed, but seriously… he told you not to bitch if you ignored that warning. You ignored the warning and bitched anyway. Congrats. You are an example of the dumb people in the states who pick up a hot starbucks cup and guzzle away, only to realize that its… i dunno… fuggin HOT! And then you complain.

    If you haven’t noticed… we’re at the Skippy’s List (and Blog). You WILL be exposed to shockingly hilarious material. Dont like it? Delink it.


  14. Brad Says:

    I saw some humor in it, but I don’t think this particular event will gain a humorous standing in the mainstream until the events that followed (invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq) are completely done with for a decade or more. That’s just my guess. And why do I dark humor so appealing? I don’t know; I just know that I have to be careful who I’m around before letting my brain have direct access to my mouth.


  15. Jon Says:

    See, I don’t get why some of you people don’t find it funny. Skippy himself has posted things that most people would find extremely offensive. Such as the retard going to death row. This was just as funny, but on a blacker note.


  16. Drew Says:

    While some of the WTC references might not be funny, i could see them being used out side the USA, Abdul’s USed Cars, Declaring Jihaid on high prices. Many people who were alive on Sep 11th 2001 and were watching wont find the humour, but give it a generation or so, the kids in the 60’s didnt appreciate the sacrifices made by their Parents in the 40’s, the hippies in the 60’s/70’s didnt appreciate the soldiers that went and served instead of running away. Every generation has its tragedies, humour can be found eventually 9/11 was the first major attack on american soil (by a foreign entity) in over 50 years. yes it is going to be a sore spot for a while, but we are Americans, we can find the humour in everything eventually.


  17. Tony Says:

    i’m of the opinion that if you can laugh at something then you can survive it. and yes i could TOTALLY picture that commercial in my head.


  18. Courtney Says:

    I found it hilarious, not in a gutbusting rofl-ing way, but in an “oh my god i can totally see this” way. It’s poking fun at American culture, folks, those terrible car salesmen and the way they’ll use any excuse to make a buck.


  19. Evil Kiwi Says:

    Eh, can’t say I’m not surprised if this only got a few chuckles. It’s funny, but it’ll take a while for us to really feel no shame in 9/11 jokes. But, ah, well.

    (And yes, I can totally see that commercial happening!)


  20. Rabid_Munkee Says:

    im in the same boat as Michiel here in that I can clearly see this happening.

    Then again I live in Northern Ireland where terrorism has been around for quite a while and people have developed a dark sense of humour about it.

    but think of it this way part of the terrorists dogma [think that is the right word] is too spread outrage and fear, turning the other cheek too it and putting a brave face on it seriously hampers there game plan.

    think i have made some point


  21. eastpaw Says:

    Perhaps some of those who found this distinctly unfunny lost people during the incident?

    Personally, I thought it was worth a grim chuckle or two.


  22. Jim C Says:

    Black humor is far more common among professions that involve death, doctors, police, military, and so on. I doubt few of us would find this attempt at humor especially offensive. I do however have to admit that I didn’t find it all that funny either. Some might say that it has been too soon, but I don’t think that it is it. I think 9/11 was just too big, too close to home. I an not sure that I could ever laugh at a 9/11 joke. I did not lose any friends or relatives, but for 8 years in the 1980’s it was my job, along with many others, to keep anyone from attacking the united states. On 9/11 even though it was no longer my job, I felt like we had failed.


  23. Brad Says:

    For those of you who think that there was humor in this blog entry, the following link came to my attention today and it is entirely on topic: http://maze.icomix.com/picturepage/020707/the_eternal_rivalry.jpg


    Joseph Bullock-Palser reply on May 22nd, 2008 3:25 am:

    My first reaction when I saw that was… What is that….

    Then it became clear… THAT is funny. :)


    Analee reply on May 22nd, 2008 11:40 am:

    I stared.

    Then I laughed.

    Then I started to feel bad, but it was quickly replaced by more laughter. Who am I not to laugh at something funny?


  24. SKD Says:

    So wrong and yet so funny at the same time.


    SKD reply on May 22nd, 2008 4:25 am:

    Look at the preceding comment as a reply to brad. Something got screwed up in the captcha verification


  25. Pogladite Says:

    Ehh, it wasn’t that funny, but not because of the subject matter. Personally, I don’t really give a crap about 9/11, it was a long time ago, and way too many people since have abused the event, citing crap like PTSD for their one day ordeal. Weak sauce. The comedy just wasn’t hitting for me, not really packed with the wit that you see from holocaust jokes and the like. Tragedy humor must have wit.


  26. Minty Says:

    Eh, those were okay.

    I can see where you’re going with this, but since I spend so much time looking at bad commercials in my job, I would be more inclined to change the channel if they came on.

    Well, except for the suicide bomber salesman. That might be worth seeing :D

    If you’re interested in some American-grown terrorist humor, I suggest you check out this NY Times article:

    It’s a bit dated (so some of you may have seen it already), but I’m actually looking forward to it being greenlit one day.


  27. paula Says:

    Far as I’m concerned, it was tacky and tasteless, somewhat funny — not a gut-buster, just mildly funny — but not offensive. Then again, I do tend to enjoy most tacky and tasteless jokes!

    And as for my ‘credentials’, I was born & raised on Navy bases; one nephew is in the Army (a Blackhawk pilot with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan), and the other is a Marine sergeant(on the ground in Iraq), and I’ll be spending Memorial Day at a Submarine Veterans’ memorial service.

    Respecting and honoring those who are gone is not the same as, and does not prevent someone, from enjoying a joke!


  28. Jo Says:

    I can see the humor in it, but I didn’t find it funny.


  29. Steven Says:

    The concept was fairly funny, poorly executed in my opinion… but not nearly as tasteless as the neocon exploitation of 9/11.


  30. Analee Says:

    While I’m completely outraged that someone would exploit 9/11 just for cash (but sadly, not surprised), that’s the ONLY part of this that outraged me.

    Nothing like the mental image of an exploding used car salesman to put a smile on your face. Thank god my mom (and Dad, when he was alive) has always had a taste for gallows humor and managed to pass it on.


  31. board in school Says:

    only in america would after 7 years people would still be so shocked not to find that funny


    Michiel reply on May 23rd, 2008 7:28 am:

    We are also shocked by womens boobs too. I’m not sure why. I think they lead to dancing or something.

    I really do not understand why so many Americans have a stick up their butt, but you have to admire the fact that at the end of that stick is a flag waving proudly in the wind.


  32. GunnyHighway Says:

    It isn’t funny nor is it commical, but the OP has a point. At some point in time the comercialization of the world will make commercials and sales out of tragidies such as 9/11.

    Honestly how long will it be until we have Columbine gun sales? Or even Oklahoma City fertalizer sales?

    Everything can be comercialized and given enough time it will be. I think that is what is pathetic here. Odds are when those commericals do come out they will be widly accepted.


  33. Michiel Says:

    It’s really funny… that is why Skippy posted it. Also if it went over badly, I would take the heat and not him, but I am not afraid of controversy, so no biggie.

    Sorry you didn’t like it, but it is totally freakin’ hilarious.


  34. Kat Says:

    :P I thought it was funny, but in a really uncomfortable way… I don’t see that type of sales pitch’s happening NOW, but in a few years (like, when I have kids)… I would not be suprised.

    And the terrisom angle has already been used for selling cars:


  35. Ole Says:

    Offended? Hehehe.. more funny to make jokes of 9/11…And even more funny when you do it on 9/11 the day of impact.
    About 1 hour after the towers got hit my cell phone displayed this message:
    “…American Airlines..We fly you directly to your office..”


  36. sKyhe Says:

    The sad thing is… I can picture that. But hey, it was hillarious!


  37. StoneWolf Says:

    The absolute worst part of that scenario was that I can completly see it happening. The second worst part was that I hurt my ribs laughing.


  38. Andrew Says:

    or as one comedian in england said…

    9-11 ? what happened november 9th ? it was a good day…


  39. Brianna Says:

    I’m with StoneWolf. Maybe it’s because another 2 years (almost) have passed or maybe it’s my twisted sense of humor (inherited legitimately from my mother) but I can so totally see those ads. Since I already have broken ribs I had to hang on to my side and do my best to stifle the laughter. I also very nearly rebroke the stupid ribs on GunnyHighway’s fertilizer sales. My left arm simply isn’t strong enough to hold my ribs in place against that. Wow.


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